Patience. It was brought up as a topic in a meeting yesterday, and I spent some time reflecting on it. It’s funny – when I was drinking, I was at my most “patient,” where alcohol was involved: waiting to catch the bartender’s eye to order my drink, waiting for a ride to the liquor store, etc. I was plenty impatient in that respect, too, though. Impatient for friends to get ready to go out so I could get to the bar & get that next drink, impatient for the alcohol to kick in and make me “feel better,” etc.
So now I make conscious, proactive efforts to be patient with all facets of life. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in how incredibly fast-paced the world around us moves, that we forget we DO have the option to slow ourselves down (at least temporarily). I can take the time to meticulously lay out my line of logic & reasoning for my younger brother, who sometimes gets too deep into his own mind to lay each train of thought out for himself. I can take the time to explain my motives & personal needs in my recovery to my mother, whereas I used to get by providing her with the most minimal amount of truthful information possible. Louis C.K. has some pretty profound insight on societal patience (there’s a reason he’s arguably the most important contemporary comedian in the world):
I’ve come to realize that patience plays a large part in the development of my spirituality, as well. One of my favorite things about A.A. and the 12 Step Program is that they encourage the afflicted to turn to God – as they understand him. Never having had any true contact with the program and its mission before this point in my life, I always had something of a stigma about it all, thinking it was cult-ish and self-righteously pious. You’re going to use God against me, to tell me I can’t drink as I please? Not a chance, pal. In reality, almost the opposite is true. The program does not try to define your God for you; it merely states that in order to properly heal, you must give up your powerlessness over alcohol to a Higher Power, something larger than yourself.
This Higher Power comes in many different forms for many different people. Some simply hold the group gatherings in the rooms of A.A. as a power larger than themselves. For me personally, I believe in the power & interconnection of The Universe as a whole. That being the case, I used to think that I had no need for the Catholic church, that its teachings did not apply to me. I now see that this is wrong thinking. It matters not what God you pray to or believe in; nay, what truly matters is that you DO believe in a power greater than yourself.
My 16-year-old brother has a close personal relationship with Jesus. I once thought it my duty to expose him to more liberal views on religion; however, now that I am learning spiritual patience, I can only ask myself, “Who am I to say that others are wrong, that God does not exist?” And because of this, I am able to step over my ego, and attend church service with him, where we both quietly worship our own Gods. It is more important for me to support his faith and beliefs, whatever they may be, than to succumb to my own ego and attempt to disprove and minimize that of the church & others.
Finally, I’ve come to understand a patience that I’ve always struggled with, that I’ve always been confused about: patience with intimate relationships. I had been torn between seeking instant gratification & pursuing true, meaningful intimacy. I understand now that the most important love is that which you have for yourself; without it, you cannot truly love another.
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